She tells Greek legends to entertain Norse gods — until one of her stories leads to murder.
When Euthalia’s father trades her to Viking raiders, her best hope is to be made a wife instead of a slave. She gets her wish – sort of – when she is sacrificed as a bride to a god.
Her inhuman husband seems kind, but he visits only in the dark of night and will not allow her to look upon him. By day Euthalia becomes known as a storyteller, spinning ancient Greek tales to entertain Asgard’s gods and monsters.
When one of her stories precipitates a god’s murder and horrific retribution, Euthalia discovers there is a monster in her bed as well. Alone in a hostile Asgard, Euthalia must ally with a spiteful goddess to sway Odin himself before bloody tragedy opens Ragnarok, the prophesied end of the world (buy on Amazon.com)
I’m a major cultural and mythology geek, so whenever a book promises a fresh take on a classic story, I’m all in. This book fully delivers. Author Laura VanArendonk Baugh knows her mythology and uses it to full advantage. The Songweaver’s Vow is an intense version of Eros and Psyche that combines thrilling action scenes with a potent tale that handles the mature subjects of Norse and Greek mythology with intelligence and clarity.
Usually I focus on main characters first in reviews. However, in The Songweaver’s Vow the gods take the center stage with their outrageous foibles and concepts of fairness (re: anything they can get away with). VanArendonk Baugh balances the over-the-top nature of Norse mythology with quiet moments of almost-humanity within each god. The main character, Euthalia, is a welcome foil to the gods with her humility, kindness, and desire to see the best in others. If she lacks a little depth and is a little over-the-top in her self-hatred over the classic Eros and Psyche curiosity blunder, this entire story is set in a large-than-life universe. Plus, her common sense morality is a refreshing contrast to pretty much every other character in the story.
Note: as I mentioned, this story unflinchingly shows or refers to many foibles of the Norse and Greek gods, which are strongly mature. To contrast the coarse attitudes of the gods towards sexuality, the author portrays a thoughtful, consensual romance between Euthalia and her god-husband that also contains mature, but non-gratuitous sexual elements and a smart fade-to-black.
Final Verdict: The Songweaver’s Vow is an intelligent, fast-paced mythology/adventure with a core of devotion and romance. It’s a rich wine with lots of high and low notes, and a clean aftertaste. Enjoy responsibly.